Fresh As ____: Photographic Meditations from the Black Vanguard (Regarding A New Esthetic)

 

Participating Artists:

Kwaku Alston, Gerald Cyrus, Alexis Hunley, Jaimie Milner, Quam Odunsi, Gregory Prescott

Curators:

Ali LeRoi, Shawn Theodore

About the Exhibition

Fresh, Fresh, Fresh, Yo that’s Fresh!

What does it mean in the Age of Black Excellence to be Fresh? Moreover, Fresh As Fuck? Who among us decides the quantity and quality of the less than 15 minutes of fame reserved for the most fly of the fly, the highest of the high?

The Black image, created by the Black eye is, from what I’ve heard, meant to be this distinct and separate world, immune from the power and gravity of the all-seeing white gaze. I call bullshit. That doesn’t mean that the vast amount of Black images made for, and living in, the contemporary space isn’t gratifying, they are. However, that gratification is a gritty windfall of fleeting satiations at best. Most of these images court the attention of the white gaze, inviting it to unveil its typical frenzy of sexualization, exploitation, and tropes in half-assed critiques and pantomimed allyship.

If this shocks you, I’m glad. There’s a silence that needs to be broken. Broken into pieces so small that we can’t find the matching edges to contort these terribly, terrifically masochistic partners back into their monstrously myopic and grotesquely symbiotic selves. So I ask again, what does it mean to be fresh.as.fuck??

From what I’ve heard, it means that the creator of an image is the image, and the image holds all of us, even the white gaze, suspended in a cloud of dense accountability. This isn’t about living up to cheeky mantras, upending Mammy memes, or chasing the dream by monetizing melanin, it’s about adding a stepping stone to that metaphorical mountain we’re all trying to get over. Martin, Baldwin, and a few other very astute niggas who I can’t remember seem to want us to get over the mountaintop. I remember that more than I remember those niggas names. Don’t kill the messenger, again. I haven’t finished this didactic.

Fresh As____ delivers on the idea that the Black image by the Black creative isn’t bound by a sense of presumed tradition or established archive. Blackness itself is an expression of fluidity. As an exclusively American invention, Blackness proves, in this exhibition, that it cannot be defined by anyone’s definitions, not even the creators of these works have a singular, independent grasp on what it means to be Black.

Sheeeeit….. it’s all just Fresh As Fuck.

Shawn Theodore, Curator

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Meet the Artists

KWAKU ALSTON• Photographer & Director
Kwaku has photographed some of the most famous faces of our time—from Oscar and Grammy winners to Barack Obama and the First Family. His many and diverse clients include The New York Times Magazine, Time, ESPN and Essence Magazine, global brands like Amgen, Pfizer, Coca-Cola, Target and Verizon, and media giants such as Universal Studios, Disney, Netflix, Amazon, Sony Music and Apple. His portraits have a fresh, unaffected feel, and yet they celebrate the extraordinariness of his subjects, striking a balance between contemporary documentary photography and classic celebrity portraiture.

Kwaku has also partnered with a variety of charities and nonprofits, including the Project Angel Food, DesignACure Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, the Black AIDS Institute, and the Smiley Faces Foundation. As the Director of Photography on a documentary titled In Search of Voodoo, he has made multiple trips to West Africa, and is inspired to bridge still photography and filmmaking to tell great stories.

 


Title: Otaay
In Search of Voodoo: Roots to Heaven. Portraits of Voodoo practitioners in Benin, Africa.
Paper Size: 27.5×41
Image Size: 26.6 x 40
Medium: Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryt Gyclee
Year: 2018
Edition: 1 0f 10
Price: $2500

 

 

 


Title: Ouidah.
In Search of Voodoo: Roots to Heaven. Portraits of Voodoo practitioners in Benin, Africa.
Paper Size: 31×41
Image Size: 29.9×40
Medium: Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta Gyclee Year: 2018
Edition: 1 0f 10
Price: $2500

 

 

 


Title: Gran Popo
In Search of Voodoo: Roots to Heaven. Portraits of Voodoo practitioners in Benin, Africa.
Paper Size: 34×41
Image Size: 32.8×40
Medium: Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta Gyclee
Year: 2018
Edition: 1 of 10
Price: $2500

 

 

 

 

Title: Queens of Voodoo
In Search of Voodoo: Roots to Heaven. Portraits of Voodoo practitioners in Benin, Africa.
Paper Size: 12.5×81
Image Size: 11.5×80
Medium: Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta Gyclee Year: 2018
Edition: 1 of 5
Price: $3,500

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Gerald Cyrus was born in 1957 in Los Angeles, California and began exploring photography there in the 1980’s. In 1990 he moved to New York City to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts (SVA). While at SVA, Cyrus interned at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and began work on “Kinship”, a project focusing on African-American family life.

Cyrus has been an artist-in-residence at Light Work in Syracuse, New York and the Sacatar Foundation in Bahia, Brazil. He has also been awarded artist’s fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Pew Foundation. His work is in several collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Cyrus is the author of Stormy Monday: New York’s Uptown Jazz Scene which was published in 2008 and Portrait of Camden in Photographs, 2001-2008 which was published in 2013. He currently lives in Philadelphia, PA and is a member of the historic Kamoinge photographers collective.

 


Title: Bottle Tree, Philadelphia, 2007
Paper Size: 20 x 24 inches
Image Size: 16.5 x 22 inches
Medium: Archival Pigment
Year: 2007
Edition: 10
Price: $1,000

 

 


Title: Street Hoop, Philadelphia, 2016
Paper Size: 20 x 24 inches
Image Size: 14.6 x 22 inches
Medium: Archival Pigment
Year: 2016
Edition: 10
Price: $1,000.00

 


Title: Boxer, Havana, 2016
Paper Size: 20 x24 inches
Image Size: 14.6 x 22 inches
Medium: Archival Pigment
Year: 2016
Edition: 15
Price: $800.00

 


Title: Pedestrian and Mural, Havana, 2016
Paper Size: 20 x 24 inches
Image Size: 14.6 x 22 inches
Medium: Archival Pigment
Year: 2016
Edition: 15
Price: $800.00

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Alexis Hunley is a freelance artist based in Los Angeles. Since she began her photography journey in 2017 she has had the pleasure of producing commercial, editorial, and documentary work for a variety of clients including HBO Max, Adobe, Best Buy, Essence, Airbnb, and The New York Times. Most recently her work has been exhibited at the Los Angeles Center of Photography, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and with Foley Gallery.

Propelled by her love for storytelling, Alexis is naturally drawn to work that allows her to explore vulnerability and emotional intimacy. As a queer Black female artist navigating the creative industry Alexis has found that her desire to dive deeper and reach for the truest, most authentic forms of expression drives her creativity.

 


Title: Untitled (Chris)
Paper Size: 12.5” x 18.5”
Image Size: 12”x18”
Medium: Digital, Lasal Exhibition Luster, 300gsm
Year: 2022
Edition: 1 AP & 5 Editions
Price: $3,000 (edition of 5)

 

 

 

 


Title: Untitled (New York City Pride 2019)
Paper Size: 12.5” x 18.5”
Image Size: 12”x18”
Medium: Digital, Lasal Exhibition Luster, 300gsm
Year: 2022
Edition: 1 AP & 5 Editions
Price: $3,000 (edition of 5)

 


Title: Untitled (Nassali)
Paper Size: 12.5” x 18.5”
Image Size: 12”x18”
Medium: Digital, Lasal Exhibition Luster, 300gsm
Year: 2022
Edition: 1 AP & 5 Editions
Price: $3,000 (edition of 5)

 

 

 

 


Title: Untitled (Jase and Audrianna)
Paper Size: 12.5” x 18.5”
Image Size: 12”x18”
Medium: Digital, Lasal Exhibition Luster, 300gsm
Year: 2022
Edition: 1 AP & 5 Editions
Price: $3,000 (edition of 5)

 


Title: Untitled (Adisa)
Paper Size: 14.4” x 18.5”
Image Size: 13.9×18”
Medium: Digital, Lasal Exhibition Luster, 300gsm
Year: 2022
Edition: 1 AP & 5 Editions
Price: $3,000 (edition of 5)

 

 

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Jaimie Milner Born and raised in Southern California, Jaimie Milner discovered photography through a high school elective. After high school, Milner attended the University of Southern California and received her Bachelors in Communication. In her studies at USC, she learned about the portrayal of race, gender and sexuality in the media and the effects it has on our society. It was then she realized she could have a direct influence on how people saw themselves and each other. Milner combined this new found knowledge and her love for the art of photography to capture the essence and stories of a people and their individual characteristics. Milner uses photographic portraiture as her primary medium by which she aspires to capture, empower and inspire the human spirit.

 

 
Title: Charles Harbison
Paper Size: 21.5” x 17.5
Image Size:
Medium: photograph 35mm
Year:  2014
Edition: AP
Price Unframed: $600
Price Framed: $750

 

Title: Frohawk Two Feathers
Paper Size: 17.5” x 21.5”
Image Size:
Medium: photograph 35mm
Year:  2010
Edition: AP
Price Unframed: $600
Price Framed: $750

 

 

 


Title: Hank Willis Thomas 
Paper Size: 17.5” x 21.5”
Image Size: 
Medium: photograph 35mm
Year:  2012
Edition: AP
Price Unframed: $600
Price Framed: $750

 

 

 

Title: The Sweeneys
Paper Size: 21.5” x 17.5”
Image Size: 
Medium: photograph 35mm
Year:  2010
Edition: AP
Price Unframed: $600
Price Framed: $750

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Quam Odunsi [b. Chicago, Illinois] is an artist of Nigerian descent who lives and works in Los Angeles. He is a Los Angeles based artist who depicts the city as clean, obscure and candid. His vintage photography, collage, silkscreen, painting and sculpture engender nostalgia while simultaneously remaining contemporary. The anachronistic nature of his images leads to interesting, raw photography.

Odunsi translates the Los Angeles environment into cinematic content on 35mm, Polaroid and Super 8mm film.

 


Title: Untitled (Lagos, Nigeria – Man on Motorcycle)
Paper Size: 15.5″ x 11.0″ Inches
Image Size: 14.0″ x 10.0″ Inches
Medium: Film, Archival Pigment Print, 100% Cotton Rag, 260 GSM
Year: 2022
Edition: 1 AP & 3 Editions
Price: $500.00 (edition of 3)

 


Title: Untitled (Lagos, Nigeria – Girl in Green Dress & White Hijab)
Paper Size: 15.5″ x 11.0″ Inches
Image Size: 14.0″ x 10.0″ Inches
Medium: Film, Archival Pigment Print, 100% Cotton Rag, 260 GSM
Year: 2022
Edition: 1 AP & 3 Editions
Price: $500.00 (edition of 3)

 


Title: Untitled (Lagos, Nigeria – Four Children with Braids & Hijab)
Paper Size: 15.5″ x 11.0″ Inches
Image Size: 14.0″ x 10.0″ Inches
Medium: Film, Archival Pigment Print, 100% Cotton Rag, 260 GSM
Year: 2022
Edition: 1 AP & 3 Editions
Price: $500.00 (edition of 3)

 


Title: Untitled (Lagos, Nigeria – Plaid Shirt Boy and Cheeky Friend Behind)
Paper Size: 15.5″ x 11.0″ Inches
Image Size: 14.0″ x 10.0″ Inches
Medium: Film, Archival Pigment Print, 100% Cotton Rag, 260 GSM
Year: 2022
Edition: 1 AP & 3 Editions
Price: $500.00 (edition of 3)

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Gregory Prscott I use my camera like a paintbrush, to create beautiful art images of the male and female face and form.  My mission is to diversify the cultural spectrum in fine art photography, with classic and timeless pieces.

I am an emerging, self-taught photographer currently residing in Los Angeles, CA., whom has spent most of my life in Houston, TX and almost 4 years in New York City.

I try to bring more diversity in art photography; in race, gender, cultural, body type, skin type and sexuality. As a Los Angeles based artist, I enjoy incorporating nature and the outdoors with my subjects. I love shooting natural light and working with a large range of models, from fashion models to art models and internet models, and it gives me an opportunity to exhibit the beauty in a larger spectrum of what we call human.

GOD is the true artist. I am the channel.

 


Title:     Beached
Paper Size:  16″x20″
Image Size:  16″x20″
Medium:  Photography
Year:  2015
Edition:  2 of 25
Price:  $250

 


Title:     Black Hat
Paper Size:  16″x20″
Image Size:  16″x20″
Medium:  Photography
Year:  2020
Edition:  1 of 25
Price:  $250

 

 

 

 


Title:     Haircut
Paper Size:  16″x24″
Image Size:  16″x24″
Medium:  Photography
Year:  2005
Edition:  6 of 25
Price:  $250

 

 

 

 


Title:     Silver Speedo
Paper Size:  16″x20″
Image Size:  16″x20″
Medium:  Photography
Year:  2017
Edition:  1 of 25
Price:  $250

 

 

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Meet the Curators

Shawn Theodore (b. 1970, Germany) is an award-winning photographer whose work opens broad conversations regarding the role of the photographer in the shaping of agency and imagery, engages in new forms of storytelling, and impacts the trajectory of the collective black consciousness.

Theodore has participated in exhibitions at various institutions, galleries and fairs, including the African American Museum in Philadelphia (2017, 2018), Mennello Museum of American Art (2018), The Barnes Foundation (2017, 2018, 2019), Steven Kasher Gallery (2018), AIPAD (2018, 2019), Hudson Valley Community College (2018), Catherine Edelman Gallery (2017), The Bakalar & Paine Galleries at MassArt (2017), Snap! Orlando (2018), Richard Beavers Gallery (2018), PRIZM Art Fair, Scope Art Fair, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Rush Arts Gallery (2017, 2018), and the University of the Arts (2019). His commercial projects include works for Apple, Showtime Networks, RocNation, PAPER Magazine, New York Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, The Atlantic, The New York Times, PDN and others.

Theodore was awarded the prestigious PDN’s 30 New & Emerging Photographers to Watch (2019), the Getty Images / ARRAY ‘Where We Stand’ (2018) grant and a grant from the Knight Foundation for ‘A Dream Deferred’ (2018). He is a two-time nominee of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Fellowship, and a nominee of the Magnum Foundation Fund.

Theodore earned his BA in JPRA (Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising) from Temple University. He currently attends the MFA for Photography program at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD Atlanta). Theodore is a current trustee of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center.

Ali LeRoi is an Award- winning writer/ director/ producer best known for his work on the critically acclaimed series, , CW’s “Everybody Hates Chris”, TBS “Are We There Yet?” and the breakout Hit for STARZ, “Survivor’s Remorse”. Ali has five Emmy nominations as well as one win, he’s a two time winner and five time nominee for NAACP Image Awards, as well as scoring several nominations from the Golden Globe, WGA, and others. Ali’s major motion picture credits include producing and co-writing “Head of State” and “Down to Earth,” as well as producing cult-favorite, “Pootie Tang.”

Ali is an avid photographer, having exhibited his work in several gallery shows and in print, and recently staged his first solo photography show “Self Portrait”. He has also served on the Board of the Producer’s Guild of America, as well as holding the current chair as President of The Humanitas Prize, a non-profit organization that awards and promotes the craft of television and film writers. Originally from Chicago, Ali LeRoi currently is working on several projects under his CBS Deal and in Post-production on his Indie Feature Film Directorial Debut, “The Obituary of Tunde Johnson.”

Leave a Reply